When my daughters and I began Aging My Way Home Care we had no idea what lay ahead. We did not envision that the majority of our clients would be living with dementia, although in retrospect we probably should have. Once we came to this realization we very quickly determined that if we wanted to be able to really meet the needs of our clients and their families we needed to learn a whole lot more about dementia. We also knew that our care providers must be adequately prepared to address the needs of someone living with dementia. To do so they would need to have a very good understanding of dementia in order to be able to engage our clients in meaningful ways. It was important to us that when hired to work with someone living with dementia we would be able to make a difference in the life of that person. We wanted to be able bring some joy into their day-to-day lives.

In my quest for dementia knowledge a site manager at one of the care centers where we have clients gave me the name Teepa Snow. She also shared with me a CD about Teepa’s Gems. I wasn’t very far into the video when I knew that this was a woman who I wanted to learn from. As a special education teacher I had always felt it was more important to look at a student’s abilities rather than dwell on their disabilities. That is what got me ‘hooked’ on Teepa Snow. Teepa clearly believed in looking at what a person living with dementia was still able to do rather than looking only at what they had lost. I wanted to learn more from this lady who clearly had an enormous amount of knowledge not only about dementia but also had amazing insights into how to engage those living with dementia in positive and meaningful ways.

I have now recently completed the requirements to become a Positive Approach to Care (PAC) Certified Independent Coach. You might ask exactly what does this mean? Well it means that I am able to share the knowledge and skills I learned from Teepa with others who care for those living with dementia. In this capacity I will be helping others better understand what it is like to live with dementia and the related challenges.

“The Positive Approach to Care encourages others to:

  • Respond to a person’s change in cognition and abilities in a way that is not hurtful or offensive.
  • Understand that, with practice, common “reactions” to the person with dementia can become thoughtful “responses” that improve quality of life for everyone involved.
  • Recognize that the person with dementia is “doing the best they can” and if something isn’t working, it’s the responsibility of the Care Partner to change their approach toward the person living with dementia as well as to discover what can be done differently to address the challenging situation.
  • Be aware of environments surrounding a person with dementia and make changes as necessary.” http://teepasnow.com/events/pac-training/

Roberta Leslie  – President & CEO Aging My Way Home Care